State’s best uni teacher

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A University of Adelaide staff member has been named the most outstanding university teacher in South Australia in 2010.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Koch OAM, a flautist and Head of Woodwind and Performance at the University’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, has received one of 24 national awards from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council for teaching excellence in a tertiary institution – and the only award from this state.

Associate Professor Koch’s teaching and performance career spans 35 years. The accomplished flautist credited her students, colleagues and fellow musicians for the award.

“I love teaching because every single day I learn something different. I don’t think the students realise this, but the fact that each one has a unique personality, different ability and technical style actually informs my own teaching,” she said.

Associate Professor Koch has also kept pace with innovative new teaching methods, including being the first university music teacher in Australia to use Wimba Voice, a web-based vocal instruction software tool, to improve her students’ flute playing skills.

The software enables students to record practise sessions in the privacy of their room and upload them on to the University’s website where they are directly emailed to Associate Professor Koch for her feedback.

“It means I can give the students instructions and advice in between their weekly face-to-face lessons so they learn to analyse and dissect their practise in a much more useful way. It is a fantastic breakthrough in teaching,” she said.

Associate Professor Koch said constant interaction with her colleagues and music peers around the world was essential in her own professional development.

“Attending conferences, performances and networking with music teachers exposes you to different teaching techniques, which you can then adapt for your own students,” she said.

In January 2011, Associate Professor Koch will take six flute students to London and Paris for a three-week tour. This will include classes with some of the world’s best flautists at the Royal College of Music, BBC Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the École Normale Supérieure.

Associate Professor Koch will receive her $25,000 teaching award at a ceremony in Canberra on 16 November, at which the 2010 Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year will be announced.

Story by Candy Gibson